Mitterer, Richard M. Department of Geosciences, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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- Classification of life
- Mass extinctions
- Human impact
- Fate of biosphere
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The thin zone of living organisms and their environments at the surface of the Earth. The biosphere is the layer of life of the Earth (Fig. 1). Included in the biosphere are all environments capable of sustaining life above, on, and beneath the Earth's surface, as well as in the oceans. Consequently, the biosphere overlaps virtually the entire hydrosphere (the water portion of the Earth) and portions of the atmosphere (the gaseous layer that envelops the Earth) and outer lithosphere (the rigid outer layer of the Earth that can support stress). Moreover, in the course of its reactions, the biosphere has important influences on the outer lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. See also: Atmosphere; Earth; Earth sciences; Ecology; Environment; Hydrosphere; Lithosphere
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